Ask the Experts

Giving Your Heart a Positive Charge

dr. michelle l. abis
Sankar Varanasi, MD, FACC
More about Dr. Varanasi

What are electrophysiology procedures?
Electrophysiology studies (EPS) test the electrical activity of a patient’s heart to find where an abnormal heartbeat is coming from (arrhythmia). Cardiologists who do electrophysiology procedures are specially trained to work in this complex field. The results provide cardiologists with information that spans a spectrum of treatments, including non-invasive medicine, a pacemaker, an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), cardiac ablation, or surgery.

 

What are the patients’ symptoms and evaluation process before using electrophysiology?
Patients often experience palpitations, dizziness, or fainting when they are sent for electrophysiology procedures. They may also have a family history of heart failure or arrhythmias. The tests can help determine their level of risk for heart disease. A cardiologist begins the evaluation process with a series of questions about family history, personal lifestyle, and genetic conditions. A simple evaluation follows. Non-invasive tests may include an electrocardiogram or stress test.

 

How are electrophysiology procedures done?
Electrophysiology procedures are often done in an electrophysiology lab with the patient mildly sedated. Similar to a catheterization, electrophysiology procedures access the heart with a tube regularly inserted through the groin. The heart’s electrical system is studied to determine what is slowing or interrupting the rhythm of the heart. Most patients are able to go back to normal activity within a couple of days following the testing unless results require a second procedure.

 

What are the risks of electrophysiology procedures?
Modern technology has minimized the risk of these types of procedures. A very small number of patients experience arrhythmias during the test. Doctors may give the heart an electric shock to resume a regular heartbeat. Blood clots rarely form at the tip of catheter and then block a blood vessel. Medications are available to minimize clots. The medical team will also work with patients to minimize the risk of infection, bleeding, and bruising at the catheter site.


Vassar Brothers Medical Center
The Heart Center, a division of Hudson Valley Cardiovascular Practice, P.C.
1 Columbia Street
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
845-473-1188
www.healthquest.org/heartcenter


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